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Nine things I wish I knew before I got pregnant.

My essential advice for any mum-to-be.

I used to dream about falling pregnant the way I dreamed about my wedding day. The reality turned out to be very different.

Turns out there’s a lot to consider even before you start trying for a baby. Thankfully, I’m a quick learner.

Here are nine things I wish I knew before I fell pregnant.

1. You are not eating for two; you are eating for one and a bit.

I honestly believed that from the moment I fell pregnant I was obligated to eat as much as I possibly could. I ate through the nausea, I ate through the discomfort and I ate through the bloating. I gained so much weight that I burst out of all my maternity clothes, pinched my sciatic nerve in my right butt cheek, chafed between my thighs and broke a swing I sat on.

You are not eating for two. It’s okay to eat a little more because your body and baby need the nutrients to grow, and it’s normal to put on some weight, but moderation is key. You are really eating for one, and a baby that’s around the size of a piece of large fruit for most of your pregnancy.

“You are really eating for one, and a baby that’s around the size of a piece of large fruit for most of your pregnancy.”

Just as an FYI, you should know that this is an advertorial for Bupa.

2. You don’t need to buy everything.

I had three pregnancy and baby books I would read religiously several times a day. Each contained a list of the things I would need for the baby. I bought every single one of them, and used about a quarter of them. I wish I had spoken to other mothers before having my first child – I could’ve saved myself a very expensive shopping spree.

3. People are going to want to touch you; so let them know if you’re not comfortable with it.

I lost count of how many men touched my pregnant belly without permission. Every single woman I encountered asked first. I always ask first. The men would just grab it and I wanted to punch them in the face, but I thought at first it was my job to smile benevolently as they shared in the joy of the miracle of life.

Now I know better – if I was pregnant now, I would politely but firmly let people know that I’m not comfortable with them reaching out before I’ve said it’s okay.

“Every single woman I encountered asked first. I always ask first.”

4. You need to have pregnancy cover 12 months BEFORE baby is born.

Nobody wants to think about money when they are starting their family, but it is a reality. Not only did I have to check that my private health insurance covered me for pregnancy 12 months in advance, I also had to plan for my maternity leave and expenses associated with having a baby. It was worth it though because once I had that all sorted, I was free to relax and enjoy the rest of my pregnancy.

Bupa has created an interactive planning guide, called Bupa Beginnings, to help you figure all this out. It will help explain healthcare options for your pregnancy and you can compare costs for public vs private, different levels of health insurance cover and, if you have a budget in mind, you can even adjust your choices to fit. You will find all the info here.

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5. Ordinary bodily functions become difficult.

Sleep may become hard during pregnancy because you will probably have to use the toilet a lot, you may have trouble breathing because your diaphragm is being squashed, digestion often becomes uncomfortable and there are also leg cramps, body cramps and just general discomfort. It’s worth it, though.

Exercise can help relieve some of the pressures of pregnancy.

6. Anyone can get the ‘baby blues’ or postnatal depression.

When most women fall pregnant, they are thrilled. They have no idea how the experience of pregnancy and childbirth can affect them, not to mention those raging hormones. I expected the ‘baby blues’. I’d heard about them. You feel really uncertain and uncomfortable and scared in those first few weeks and it can leave you a little blue – but then it should go away.

Postnatal depression, however, is a whole different thing as it can last a lot longer and requires treatment. Thankfully we now know there is nothing to be ashamed of by asking for help and support to get through this. We are also blessed with dedicated organisations like COPE, PANDA and beyondblue.

Bupa has teamed up with PIRI, the Parent-Infant Research Institute at Melbourne’s Austin Health, to create the Parent and Baby Wellbeing program. This offers support to families who may be struggling with their transition to parenthood. The Parent and Baby Wellbeing program is available at no out of pocket cost to Bupa members on selected hospital and combined hospital and extras covers.

7. Do your research.

You can read a million books and articles and blogs and still have no idea what to expect from pregnancy. That’s when ‘primary research’ comes in handy. Find mums and talk to them. Ask them about their challenges, tips and advice.

8. Being fashionable isn’t a big deal.

Thongs are an absolute must for pregnancy – I wore them because they were comfortable, not slippery and because my feet were bloated and sweaty. Don’t worry too much about fashion and expensive maternity clothing, either. You only need the basics and they are affordable – black pants, skirt, shorts, stretchy tops and large undies.

9. There are some things you just can’t do.

There is a lot of advice about what you can and can’t do when pregnant. Listen to it all. I always think it’s best to be cautious. Make sure you know what you can and cannot eat. We’ve all heard we can’t have soft cheese but did you know it’s not recommended to have soft serve ice cream either? If you’re not sure about something, ask your doctor or maternal and child nurse.

It’s all worth it though.

What would you tell your past self about pregnancy?

Here are some cute baby, dog and cat moments to send you on your way:

Want more? Try these:

The actual cost of having a baby is terrifyingly high.

“The sexy thing I’m doing to get my groove back after having a baby.”

The brutal truth about having a third child.

Whether you’re adding to the family or your kids are growing up, Bupa has a family package to suit. Depending on what cover option you choose, you’ll have access to antenatal and postnatal services, you won’t have to pay hospital excess for kids until they’re 25, you’ll be 100% covered for selected optical packages and if you are ever admitted to hospital you’ll get a private room (or money back guarantee).

Thinking of switching to Bupa from another insurer? The good news is that you won’t have to re-serve waiting periods if you switch to an equivalent or lower level of cover. Talk to a Bupa consultant today on 134 135.

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